Category Archives: Food

The Fresh Grocer providing fresh nutrition

The Fresh Grocer has become a staple in residents’ lives in the Olney and Logan neighborhoods. Students and residents both rely on The Fresh Grocer for not only regular food items but also fresh options.

I recently interviewed some people that shop at The Fresh Grocer on Chew Ave in the Olney/Logan neighborhoods. They all noted how the store is convenient and one of the very few places to get fresh food.

I asked what they thought were the benefits of having a store like The Fresh Grocer in their neighborhood is. I also asked what some of the negatives were in addition to alternative shopping options in the neighborhood.

These interviews are part of my goal of bringing awareness about the lack of healthy and nutritional food options in city neighborhoods. For those that live in the suburbs, it is easy to have numerous grocery store or corner stores to go get your desired groceries. Personally, there are 2 grocery stores and a mom and pop food market within a mile of my house. Not everyone is as lucky. Other La Salle students mapped the food options in the Olney/Logan neighborhood for a senior nutrition project. These students found that the McDonalds had some of the healthiest options because McDonalds offers fruit and salads.

La Salle students Bill Repetto and Alex Miller (pictured below) both rely on The Fresh Grocer for food. Olney resident Reggie Johnson recognized the great benefit The Fresh Grocer is to the neighborhood. Listen to the interviews for their respective responses on my Sound cloud page.

Student Alex Miller poses in front of The Fresh Grocer after he stopped to pick up food for the week
Student Alex Miller poses in front of The Fresh Grocer after he stopped to pick up food for the week
La Salle student Bill Repetto poses with some of his gluten free food. Without Fresh Grocer, Repetto wouldn't be sure where he could get food from.
La Salle student Bill Repetto poses with some of his gluten free food. Without Fresh Grocer, Repetto wouldn’t be sure where he could get food from.

Keep in mind the next time your are at the store how lucky you may be to easily walk into the store and get all sorts of healthy food. Some neighborhoods may not have the same benefit or may only have one option.


Quick Quesadillas

Want something filling and satisfying yet that is a quick clean up? I have the solution then in my quesadillas. All you need is a fry pan, tortilla wraps, shredded cheese, chicken, and whatever you want to add to spice up the dish. I used medium sized tortillas a they fit perfect into my 12 inch fry pan.

Shredded Cheese, wraps, chicken, salsa, and BBQ sauce. the perfect ingredients for quesadillas
Shredded Cheese, wraps, chicken, salsa, and BBQ sauce. the perfect ingredients for quesadillas

No need for any oil or butter in the pan. Put the pan on the lower end of medium high heat. Put one wrap down in the pan, immediately place however much cheese you want on top. I use about 1/2 cup to 2/3 cups of shredded cheese. Next put the chicken in. I precooked my chicken. I like to cook an extra breast whenever I make chicken. Helps save time down the road. I added 2/3 cups of chicken.

Next is whatever you want to add to your quesadilla. I’m a huge BBQ sauce fan. You could very well put BBQ on dirt and I’d give it a taste. So I added some BBQ to the first quesadilla. The second quesadilla I followed the same steps but instead of BBQ I added salsa to the inside.

Add a second tortilla to top it off and now monitor the bottom quesadilla. Once it gets a medium brown, flip the quesadilla.Once agai monitor the bottom tortilla and when that also reaches the medium brown, the quesadilla is done.

Now it is time to enjoy!

Clean up takes a matter of minutes as all you have to clean is the pan, the plate you eat on (unless you used paper), and the spoon t scoop the salsa out with.

Quick, easy, and delicious. Cant beat that!

Exploring Nutrition

La Salle University students involved with Exploring Nutrition work at a food shelter, helping to distribute fresh foods. Photo Credit: La Salle University

Exploring Nutrition was created with the help of La Salle University with the mission “to create a model by which urban universities can, in partnership with local businesses, community organizations, and religious institutions, utilize collective resources and expertise to have a positive impact on their neighborhood’s health and nutritional well-being”.

La Salle University has partnered with “Fresh Grocer” grocery store and with several local businesses and religious organizations to improve the nutrition provided in the neighborhood. Dr. Marjie Allen, chair of Integrative Studies at La Salle University told me about the beginnings and inner workings of Exploring Nutrition.

One goal of the Exploring Nutrition program is to maintain food mapping of local businesses. This entails going to every store that sells food in the area and recording what products they sell, especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Allen said that when she had students do this research, some were astonished when they found that McDonald’s had more fresh fruit options than some of the corner stores they stopped at.

Allen said that it was seen through studies both nationally and locally that the nutrition and fresh food available in poorer neighborhoods was subpar. This lack of quality has lead to health issues such as obesity. La Salle University, being in a poorer neighborhood, decided to take a proactive step to fight the malnourishment and hunger that was living in the university’s backyard.

At the time of the last food mapping, there were three supermarkets in the area that provided fresh foods; Fresh Grocer, Pathmark, and Bottom Dollar. Recently, Bottom Dollar has closed due to a corporate buy-out.

Fresh Grocer was built within the last 10 years by La Salle University as a way to get better food and nutrition into the neighborhood. In a National Housing Institute article about getting fresh foods into low income communities, writer Rebecca Flournoy points out the added benefits of having a super market in these communities.

A view of the produce section inside The Fresh Grocer located at The Shoppes at La Salle. Photo Credit:

“The stores create jobs for local residents, capture dollars currently being spent outside of the community, recycle money in the local economy and increase local sales tax revenue”, said Flournoy.

Allen said that the program and focus on getting better nutrition is for all members of the community, both young and old. The children need the nutrition to physical develop and mentally develop and do well in school. Allen once again referred to her students who participated in the recent food mapping. Some of the students noted in their reports, the cracked and unstable sidewalks that surrounded the neighborhood and local corner stores. The elderly may likely have trouble trying to keep their balance from these unsafe conditions.

Allen said “Imagine if you were them, trying to keep balance with your cane or walker and then trying to keep your balance when leaving with your hands full of groceries”.

As La Salle’s Exploring Nutrition program continues to grow and become part of food shelter’s and soup kitchen’s missions, be sure to see more fresh foods throughout the neighborhood.

Pheed Philly

Started in 2011, “Pheed Philly” was found by La Salle University students. These students were previously involved with community outreach programs like working in soup kitchens. Recognizing that numerous organizations were doing very similar work, the students banded together to unite their efforts. I recently had the opportunity to listen to current La Salle students and “Pheed Philly” coordinators Becca Long and Molly Mahon.

“49% of shelter requests in Philadelphia are going unfulfilled and 20% of those looking for food assistance are getting it”, said Mahon “60% of these people asking for these requests are employed”.

There a couple hundred thousands of people in Philadelphia who are not receiving food stamps either because they barely do not qualify or there is not enough money to provide this assistance to all.

Long noted that at each shelter and food kitchen Pheed Philadelphia goes to, the students make those in need feel dignified. The students do not simply just give the needy a meal and end the interaction. The students hold conversation with the needy and got to know a little something about each other.

Mahon said that her favorite experience involved a man named Dexter. Dexter is a frequent visitor to Face to Face. She has seen him twice a week for two years at this shelter. Conversation was always about how they have been and Mahon’s classes.

“He kept asking me if I took English classes and I said well no because I’m a nursing student but LaSalle has English classes like reading classes”, said Mahon “I was surprised he was interested in attending a university. He outright asked me if I could help him brush up on his reading”.

“I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make them [those in need] happier,” described Long on why she volunteers.

Long and Mahon said they’ve met people from all walks of life at the different locations. There have been people who’ve been in poverty their whole life and there have been people who have had a successful life and lost it.

“You can’t assume anything about anyone. We’re all equal. Its just life’s circumstances”, said Mahon.

Pheed Philadelphia has coordinators and students out at different soup kitchens or shelters nearly everyday of the week. To find out more about Pheed Philadelphia and who you can help follow this link .

La Salle students supporting "Pheed Philadelphia". Picture credit: La Salle University UMAS
La Salle students supporting “Pheed Philadelphia”. Picture credit: La Salle University UMAS